In Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland the issue of size arises over and over. Ranging from cakes to fans to mushrooms, many things cause Alice to grow or shrink herself, and the unusual sizes of the creatures who normally exist in totally differently then they do in Wonderland, as she knows from the real world. While at first Alice thinks that a change in size must be indicative of a change to a different person, she eventually realizes that appearance does not in fact dictate her identity.

"But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!" And she began thinking over all the children she knew, that were of the same age as herself, to see if she could have been changed for any of them. [28]

"Who are you " said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, "I — I hardly know, Sir, just at present — at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then." [49]

For Alice, a physical change in appearance represents a change in herself, to the point where she can not see herself as the same person. Wonderland shows Alice that the ideas of real ingrained in her head create unnecessary boundaries. As the appearance and size of various familiar creatures differ greatly from Alice's expectations, she begins to reach the point where she starts "wondering if anything would ver happen in a natural way again." [101]

Questions

1. Why does Alice have to physically consume most of the objects that change her size? Is the fan the only one that she does not eat? Is this important?

2. What other books that we have read deal with the issue of size and its accuracy as a measure of a person?

3. How does Alice start to deal with her size changes? What does it say about her ability to adapt? Is this related to her age?

4. Does anything in Wonderland happen "in a natural way?" [101] What is the difference between the fantasy in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and the fantasy in the other books we have read?


Victorian Web Overview Lewis Carroll Leading Questions

Last modified 22 March 2004